News reporter Julio Cesar Ortiz of Univision 34 and experts from the organization Doctors Without Borders and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative will hold a panel discussion in Santa Monica Thursday, October 1st on Chagas, a little-known and largely ignored killer disease threatening millions of people in Latin America.

The discussion is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at The Broad Stage, 1310 11th St., Santa Monica. The event is free and open to the public.

According to Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization, Chagas is increasingly being diagnosed in the United States. Los Angeles County is home to the only Chagas treatment clinic in the country.

Chagas is a neglected parasitic disease that infects between ten and 15 million people in Latin America every year. Over the course of many years, the parasite disrupts the heart’s natural electrical system, leading to heart failure and, eventually, death, according to Doctors Without Borders. Most people do not know they are infected until they develop irreversible health problems.

On the 100th anniversary of the discovery of this ignored disease, the medical organization is calling for increased diagnosis, greater access to treatment, and more research to develop better and less toxic drugs.